• A local store sells toys and other mementos in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

A local store sells toys and other mementos in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. (Photo : www.realmagick.com)

A young American riding a motorcycle and speaking good Mandarin has traveled across the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and found an exciting experience in the region, where most people hardly understand him, the China Daily reported.

According to the report, Zach Naimon, 19, also plans to ride a motorcycle from East China to the western city of Kashgar.

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"It's a fantastic experience. When I came across a difficulty, people helped me out. Nothing was better than making friends with the local people in that village. I realized one of the goals for this motorbike trip."

He is attracted to China's countryside, he said, given that "big cities . . . look similar to each other."

The report said that Naimon's fascination with China's countryside started four years ago when he came to Beijing to study high school.

The young American had reportedly stayed with a Chinese family for more than a year while he studied high school. Soon, he could speak better Mandarin than most foreign Chinese learners, even winning the Jiangsu Cup, a Chinese-language speech contest in Nanjing in June, the report added.

Naimon said that four years ago, he lacked the money to travel to big cities so he spent his holidays in the countryside around Beijing and in Yunnan Province in the south and Gansu Province in the west.

To him, the country's rural areas are much more intriguing than its big cities.

"China's very big and the places are very different from each other," Naimon added.

Naimon said that he decided to travel around China four years later, before going to the University of Virginia in Charlottesville as a second-year student.

In the United States, Naimon learned how to ride a motorcycle, and he bought a motorcycle in Beijing the following month, later riding to Nanjing to attend the Jiangsu Cup awards ceremony.

At a crossroads in the suburbs of Nanjing, Naimon said that he met a friend and they rode together to Dunhuang in Gansu Province.

After Dunhuang, Naimon rode on to Kashgar, 2,200 km away. He said the road stretching about 1,200 km from Qinghai Lake to Turpan is one of the most remarkable places because of the weather extremes.

The young rider said that he covered more than 16,000 kilometers in 45 days, traveling through 13 provinces and autonomous regions and 28 cities, including Hebei, Gansu, Qinghai and Xinjiang.

He said that he enjoyed the scenery along the way and made friends. But when he posted photos on Facebook, his friends "thought it was dangerous to ride a motorbike in a foreign country."

"It was on July 24 when I had almost finished the trip. Usually I did not ride on highways because in China that's not allowed. So I took national roads. But after I had just passed the provincial boundary between Inner Mongolia and Hebei Province the wheels slipped on the gravel (and) I fell down and broke my leg," Naomi said.